Patient Injured After Physical Therapy Ends Prematurely

Physical Therapy Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Ohio and involves a male that was in good health prior to the events in this case. After sustaining a fairly serious injury to his knee while playing softball in a corporate recreational league, he presented to an orthopedic surgeon. After receiving surgery on his knee, he was discharged to a post-operative rehab facility in order to recover. The patient received physical therapy and close supervision for the duration of his stay at the facility, however he was released before he had fully recovered from the operation and was still considered to be at risk for a fall. The patient was sent back to his home, where he lived alone, without any further support or medical assistance. Shortly after returning to his home, the patient fell, causing devastating injuries to his knee which will require additional surgeries to repair.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you treat post op knee surgery patients?
  • 2. Are you familiar with the guidelines for when a patient should be released?
  • 3. Given your experience in this setting, do you believe that you may be able to determine if this patient was released prematurely after a thorough record review? 4. Please explain why you are qualified to review this case and if you have served as an expert witness on any similar cases.

Expert Witness Response E-006321

I have treated many patient’s who have had an ORIF to their knee. I have treated these patients in multiple settings, including acute, rehab, SNF and outpatient. After reviewing the records, I am sure I could determine if the patient was safe enough for discharge home, or if he required further PT intervention. I have been a physical therapist for 18 years, working in a variety of settings during that time, I have worked as an expert witness reviewing thousands of pages of medical records and am very thorough. I have been deposed multiple times as an expert witness and have been to court recently, where in the opinion of the attorney, I was a vital component of the plaintiff winning his case. I have reviewed many cases involving patient falls. I have worked as the orthopedic team leader in a major acute care hospital where instructing patients after an orthopedic surgery for a safe discharge was my primary duty.

Expert Witness Response E-000326

I routinely treat post op knee surgery patients. 15% of my cases are knee cases and I am very familiar with ORIF procedures and their rehabilitation protocols. In order for this patient to be released, the patient should be a safe ambulator and have good balance / coordination, strength and ROM, prior to discharge. Typically, complications of this patient type include gait dysfunction and would put the patient at higher risk of re-injury, and must be considered in the rehab process. I can certainly help determine if this patient was released prematurely; I would need to review the patient’s PMH, the initial evaluation, daily notes, progress reports and the discharge summary, in order to determine if the plan of care was carried out properly. I feel especially qualified for this case because I own and practice full-time in an outpatient facility.


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